Lionsgate // 2009 // 103 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // May 19th, 2009
Get Your Heart Broken...and Stabbed...and Removed...and Torn To Bits...
Everyone remembers their first experience. It was intensely exciting and, in the end, relatively disappointing. The failure to meet certain expectations definitely put you off the concept, but the found fragments of fun in combination with the notion's continuing potential kept you coming back for more. Sadly, 3D never fully lived up to its potential, the two color stereoscopic system delivering decent depth but little else. Now comes Real 3D, which sounds like a less than clever marketing of the same old sh...but in truth, the fledgling format truly does deliver.
Over the last few months, we've seen Disney employ the gimmick to give Bolt an extra element it actually didn't need. And Pixar is playing with the stunt as part of its upcoming release of Up. But nowhere does Real 3D excel better than in the gore-drenched delight My Bloody Valentine. A remake of the classic Canadian slasher film from nearly three decades ago, the dimensional aspect gave this exercise in arterial spray a wantonly wicked approach. Sadly, it's something than not even the recent Blu-ray release can recapture...at least not with a pair of cardboard glasses.
Ten years ago, an accident at the Hanniger Mine left several workers trapped. When a rescue team finally reached them, all they could find was insane miner Harry Warden. Seems he had killed everyone else, and while recuperating in the hospital, he awakens to continue his massive murder spree. Everyone blames owner's son Tom (Jensen Ackles, Supernatural) for not bleeding the gases out of the shaft, and when he returns home to sell the business, tempers are still flaring. He tries to reconnect with his ex-girlfriend Sarah (Jaime King, Sin City) but she's now married to former friend -- and present day sheriff -- Alex (Kerr Smith, Dawson's Creek).
Without warning, a new series of killings occurs and most of the locals point to Tom. Still, some believe Harry Warden is back, getting his revenge on the town that left him to rot deep down inside the bowels of the Earth. Hopefully, some former residents (Tom Atkins, Halloween 3: Season of the Witch; Kevin Tighe, Roadhouse) can explain what happened to Harry, and who this new masked slayer with a pick axe really is.
While there is already a review of My Bloody Valentine 2009 here on the site, this confirmed fright fan wants to add a couple of paragraphs of praise to this recent remake before getting into the tech spec goodies. Along with the Marcus Nispel update of Friday the 13th, this is one of the best horror films of the last ten years. It's brutal and insane, packing more grue and gratuity in its stunning 90 minutes than many scary films can find in an entire franchise. Eyes pop, guts fly, and axe points infiltrate all manner of human body parts. There is so much blood in this boffo macabre that even the most cynical of gorehounds will find themselves feeling a bit squeamish here and there. And for those who enjoy a bit of bare ass bodkin with their shivers, there is one scene that is destined to go down as a 'naked chick being chased by a maniac' classic. It's full frontal, ferocious, and so frisky that you can't help but feel a little twinge...of spine-tingling terror. What did you think we were referencing? Pervs.
Kudos to director Patrick Lussier, someone who fully understands the genre dynamics. He knows when to lay on the suspense and is expert at offsetting said dread with a little slight of hand humor. His compositions increase our sense of fear, especially in light of the three dimensional landscapes he had to work with. He doesn't shy away from the nasty stuff, painting the screen red several times in scenes reminiscent of the slice and dice's category's very best. And he's aware of the cult surrounding the original film, never diminishing its hometown feel or claustrophobic intensity.
Indeed, My Bloody Valentine 2009 is a brilliant update, a remake that takes the best elements of both the old and the new and filters them in a way that truly frazzles our nerves and gets our butts to the edge of our seats. The acting is what it needs to be -- journeyman and generous, with Ms. King giving it her scream queen best as mandatory 'last girl' Sarah. Add in clever turns by fright film mavericks like Atkins and Tighe and you've got a sensational slaughter fest.
Of course, those of you who waited until home video to experience this balls-out beauty will be missing most of the movie's inventive allure. The 3D theatrical ride was amazing, a nonstop barrage of in your face gags, wide open spaces, and logistical immersion. When the masked miner came at you, the realism of the effect was spellbinding. Lussier even upped the ante by avoiding most of the Dr. Tongue School of Optical Stunts to throw everything including someone's severed jawbone at the screen. Unfortunately, there is no way to recreate the polarized visual approach on DVD, not even with the increased detail of Blu-ray.
A quick comparison gives the Cineplex the wide-opened edge, while the 1080p presentation beats out the standard digital image by a couple of percentage points. But the bad thing about the use of the red and green version of the technology is that, even on Blu-ray, there is ghosting and an overall decrease in clear color. You kind of get the same experience as the theater, but the 1.85:1 widescreen image just doesn't "pop." Instead, everything turns a kind of multi-monochrome, no one tint taking precedent over the others. The 2D version looks pristine, however, the 4K digital video converted effortlessly over to a cinema quality print.
On the sound side, things improve dramatically over the standard DVD. The Blu-ray offers a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, and it really rocks the subwoofer. During a couple of key moments, the speakers literally rumble with low-end menace. The dialogue even offers some direction, with the back channels providing a nice bit of spook show ambience. For those looking for foreign language tracks, Lionsgate has added a Dolby Digital 5.1 French dub, as well as subtitles for both Spanish and English SDH needs.
As for added content, the Blu-ray offers both the 3D and 2D versions of the film. There is also a terrific audio commentary featuring Lussier and co-writer Todd Farmer. They provide a wonderful insight into the film, including a mandatory discussion of Betsy Rue's nude scene. Elsewhere, there is a collection of deleted and extended scenes that add little to the movie, an alternative ending which is rather interesting, a gag reel, and two masterful Making-Ofs: one focusing on the movie itself, the other centered on the special effects. There is also something called 'MoLog', which is described as the "first BD-Live application that allows users to insert and animate shapes, text, audio and other graphics right into the film to create 'blogs' to share" with other users, and 'Lionsgate Live', a BD-Live menu system that lets viewers access exclusive content and offers from the company. Both seem rather pointless. There is also a second disc offering the now mandatory digital copy of the film, and four pair of 3D glasses.
Somewhere within the technological maelstrom, between the drive for cheaper (and larger) HD screens and more accessible digital content, someone will develop the wholly 3D television. It will provide the kind of real life experience audiences apparently want while allowing for the media to make format-friendly adjustments to their respective artforms. As it stands right now, the two color system seems to be the most disappointing of necessary home video evils. Until something better comes along, people interested in mimicking the movie-going dynamic will have to put up with such a semi-successful variation. My Bloody Valentine is a terrific fright film, no matter the way it is presented. Sadly, those hoping the Blu-ray would up the replay value will have to wait until the format makes the mandatory shift toward additional optical progress. Us real horror fans will just enjoy the plentiful blood and guts.
Not Guilty. A great scare experience, given a decent, if not definitive,
treatment on Blu-ray.
Review content copyright © 2009 Bill Gibron; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* 2D and 3D Versions
* Alternative Ending
* Deleted/Extended Scenes
* Gag Reel
* MoLog Option
* Digital Copy
* Official Site